Sandwich wars head north of the border

In a move that sounds like the plot of a Martin Scorsese mafia movie, U.S. sandwich chains Jersey Mike’s and Jimmy John’s are gearing up for a turf war north of the border.

What happened: The chains are joining the growing list of fast food brands looking to take a chunk out of the lucrative Canadian sandwich market. Jersey Mike’s will open more than 300 new locations, and Jimmy John’s will open its first-ever international location in the GTA.

  • Jersey Mike’s —  which was actually started in New Jersey by a guy named Mike — is the pricier option of the two, offering more premium subs akin to a Firehouse, whereas Jimmy John’s is a bit cheaper with more options, similar to Mr. Sub.

Why it matters: Two U.S. brands confidently setting up shop in Canada — in what’s already a crowded market with well-established brands — shows how big Canadians' appetite for sandwiches is, but also that the brands think they can step up the sandwich game.  

  • The sandwich and burger category is the most popular choice for diners in Canada, dominating what has recently become a ~$30 billion Canadian fast food market.

  • Tim Hortons and Subway — two more sandwich competitors in Canada — have the first and second most restaurants of any food chain in the country. 

Big picture: The global sandwich market is expected to grow by US$41 billion by 2027, driven by more artisanal and health-conscious offerings. While Subway is still leading the way (by a lot), tastes are evolving, and with it, the door is opening for sandwich shops to carve out their own niches in the crowded space.—LA